Money That Would Have Changed My Life.

My great-grandfather was many things, pilot in World War II, immigrant from England, devout member of Canada’s Anglican church but he was also key player in Canada’s education system as it stands today.

Education was so important in my family and my great-grandfather was a huge force behind this. My grandmother followed in his teaching footsteps, not common for a woman born in the ’30’s to teach while raising a family with a husband who also works full-time. After she gave birth to her third child she eventually stayed home since her husband, a civil engineer, loved to be on the job site and so they were constantly moving around (my mom moved 13 times before her 18th birthday) making it difficult for my grandmother to maintain a teaching position.

When my great-grandfather passed he left some money to my sister and I for our future education. My mom being a single mother didn’t want to have to think about it so she gave it to her parents to hold onto until we needed it. It wasn’t much, maybe $2,000 but it was something. When my grandparents died (within three years of eachother) that money then became a part of their estate since it was in their savings accounts.

My grandparents, unknowingly to my mother, had also set aside enough money for all the current-born grandchildren to pursue post secondary education. I was to receive about $25,000 when they died. Enough for most of my undergraduate degree.

Without getting into too many messy family affairs here, I’ve never seen the money. My grandmother died in 1998.

In the turmoil of death of a parent, my mom was convinced to sign over being the executor of the will to her brother who lived in the province where they died. He convinced her that it would be easier for someone in province to deal with the legal stuff rather than her having to travel until it was settled. Long story short he took the entire contents of the estate and spent every. last. penny. {Just so I don’t have to answer what I can predict may be a million questions, yes, there were legal repercussion for this but regardless, my family never saw any of the money}

I know life is too short to hold grudges, but I fully believe that this money would have changed my life and I can’t help but think about it from time-to-time.

If I had that money I could have saved enough money during my undergrad to pay for my post-degree diploma, potentially graduating debt free….

If I had that money I wouldn’t have been in a position to charge thousands of dollars worth of tuition on credit cards….

If I had that money I may now be in a situation where our only debts would be hubby’s small student loan, car and mortgage…

If I had that money I may be able to afford to stay at home longer, if not permanently with kiddo….

If I had that money my life would undoubtedly be so different.

I know there’s no way of knowing which paths life may have created for me should I have received that money, but I sure would like to think that I’d be in a much better situation then I am now. It doesn’t help that I see my uncle and his family ”living the dream life” through photos almost everyday. They live in a beautiful gated community in the US, travelling home to Canada as often as they want. Their three kids will never have to worry about financial struggles yet we suffer because of his actions.

I’m human, I’ve thought about pursing legal action myself as an adult, I’ve even looked into getting answers through sites like LegalZoom, but I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones and just let it go.

Have you ever been in a (monetary) situation that could have potentially changed your life’s path?

Please note that ‘m not trying to make excuses for the financial path I went down. There is SO much more to my life story as the reasoning behind each decision that will probably take years to unfold on this blog, if ever. Let’s just say that unfortunately the money I made wasn’t given the opportunity to be used for school as much as I would have liked.


  1. I work in a mortuary and see this kind of stuff EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am so sorry that you didn’t get what was rightfully yours. Some people have a huge weakness for money and see dollar signs when there is any opportunity for financial gain.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..How Much Money Is Enough?My Profile

  2. I know another family that has almost the exact same story only it goes back yet another generation and was about Treasury Notes whose beneficiaries were recast when “Pappy” was dying. Long story short, the family that was to execute Pappy’s estate all of the sudden had the bulk of the beneficiaries of the notes. This was almost 30 years ago.
    It has split the family a good deal, so that even though the two halves acknowledge each other, when one 80-year-old sister (from the half that “stole”) died, her 88 year old brother did not even go to the funeral or anything. It was really sad.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..He Said, She Said – Buying A $2K AmpMy Profile

  3. That is shocking that family members can behave like this. Although you don’t know what you would have done with the money at such a young age, you may have bought a new car or upgraded your student condition. It is hard not to feel bitter but it could have been you blowing that money or having an emergency and ending up where you are now. I have missed a lot of money in my life, once my house was robbed, I was at home between school years and most of my stuff was stolen. Jewelry, stereo… My family got back the insurance money and didn’t pay me. Instead of holding a grudge I just bought new stuff and kept going.
    Pauline recently posted..Life is not like the moviesMy Profile

    • Ugh, money causes people to behave in evil ways. My mom and her brother never had any issues prior to this, it destroyed their relationship and the relationship my sister and I had with them and their kids as well. I would NEVER do that to a friend or family.

  4. It’s unfortunate that these things happen, and I have someone very close to me who constantly takes the p*** moneywise. In my own case, I am resigned to never seeing that money again, so I have to move on. I can’t change what’s happened, but the more I think about it, the more I can feel it eating me up. I know from experience, it’s very hard, but do yourself a favour, be the better person and try to let go.
    Matt recently posted..Reaching My TargetMy Profile

  5. I was thinking this was going to be a great story, until I read about your uncle. I’ve seen other stories like this and it’s always saddening & maddening at the same time. We had a similar situation when my grandfather died. My aunt and uncle stormed the house and basically took anything of value. They could do this as they lived only an hour or two away, vs. us living 1000 miles away. It always amazes me that family members can & will do things like this to each other.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Why Rebalancing Your Portfolio is Like Buying a Carton of EggsMy Profile

  6. Wow. I would be angry too. Its amazing how often this happens and always over money it seems. I am glad you are taking the high road. No use dwelling on what could have been.
    Debt and the Girl recently posted..Is Suze Orman Full of Sh*t!?!?!?!My Profile

  7. This brings up the reality that it’s very important to choose the right person as executor of the state. Depending on how our life turns out, it’s likely that I’ll just pay a lawyer to do it and not trust it to family.
    Jason @ WorkSaveLive recently posted..Sausage Chili RecipeMy Profile

    • Catherine says:

      Yup, my mom was the right choice and my grandparents knew it but it was tough with her travelling back and forth and my uncle capitalized on this point and caught my mom in a weak moment and convinced her it was a good idea for him to take over (prior to this they had a fine relationship).

  8. Wow, I’m so sorry that you had to go through/deal with this! Hopefully those financial pieces will be back in place sooner than later…
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..120 Holiday Gifts Under $20My Profile

    • Catherine says:

      oh I doubt there will ever be a resolution (in my favor at least) I guess he’s the one who has to live with himself right?

  9. That is just a terribly sad story… It is unbelievable to me that some folks look at the death of one of their own loved ones as an opportunity to get their hands on as much money as possible… What a terrible way to live.
    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..That Christmas Time of YearMy Profile

  10. That sucks. My grandmother died and my uncle was the executor of her estate. Everything was in the name of my grandma and my uncle. My uncle has always been somewhat irresponsible with money and has borrowed multiple times from family without ever paying back. During the time of settling the estate, he and my aunt moved out of state, and my dad was starting to wonder if my uncle was going to screw him over, but he ended up coming through and doing what he was supposed to do. It’s always tough when money comes into play, which is sad when family gets split apart.
    Michael @ So You Think You Can Save recently posted..Cook From Scratch As Often As You CanMy Profile

  11. This happens all of the time. People change over money. Their whole demeanor changes and they act completely differently. This has happened to my wife’s family. They have started a feud over the money from the grandparents. My wife has never been so disgusted with her family members. I am sorry that this has happened to you.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Students: How to Finish College with No DebtMy Profile

  12. Money certainly brings out the worst in people. I actually had two cousins get in a fist fight at the funeral home over who got their mother’s couch. That money would have been great, but if you bring yourself full circle, it will be more rewarding in the end. I do believe what comes around goes around, so I’m sure it will catch up to your uncle at some point.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Do Your Purchases Reflect Your Values?My Profile

  13. I’m so sorry that happened. Money issues can tear families apart. I have no doubt that when my parents are gone, my brother who I can’t even get into all the details of why he’s a loser, will come after me. And while my entire family has enabled him his whole life, he’s got another thing coming when it comes to me. I digress. It’s tough to ruminate on what could have been. I think whatever you went through only makes you a stronger person, but hugs to you anyway!
    Budget & the Beach recently posted..Group Couponing: Taking the World by StormMy Profile

  14. Gross, that sucks. My cousin’s biological family had the same problem 🙁 Now her aunt and aunt & uncle hate each other, because one spent allllllll of it. It’s so disgusting and has affected so many relationships, all over what is a fairly small amount of money in the grand scheme of things.
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..400+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Adults!My Profile

  15. Wow, it doesn’t shock me as we hear of this sort of thing every day where money trumps everything even being a respectful, thoughtful human being. Money can be an evil in some people’s lives. I’m sorry you had to go through this and I hope you can move forward and make a tonne of money that you can look back and say.. I didn’t need it anyway. What goes around comes around. Mr.CBB
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..CBB Net Worth Update~November 2012My Profile

  16. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    Very sorry that you and the others didn’t inherit what your grandparents worked so hard to ensure you would have received. We are currently seeing similar events unfolding due to a death on my husband’s side of the family. Humans are really capable of anything good and bad. Karma will come back to haunt your uncle of that I am certain.
    K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! recently posted..Why Do You Blog?My Profile

  17. Oh wow, money can make people do crazy things. That’s super sad and I’m sorry that that happened to you. I can’t imagine my family ever acting like that, but when money gets involved (as you know all to well, unfortunately), people can change.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Housekeeper? What Do You Think You’re Rich?My Profile

  18. Ugh I’m so sorry. As you know something similar happened with my mother. It’s just easier to give then to do with the turmoil and hassle.
    Michelle recently posted..$75 Novica GiveawayMy Profile

  19. Justin@TheFrugalPath says:

    Wow I’m so sorry for your situation. It’s scary what some people are willing to do for money. I agree with Jason that sometimes it might be worth the expense to hire a lawyer to avoid these scenarios.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Coupon Folders: A System that Works for MeMy Profile

    • Oh there was a lawyer involved, like I said he convinced her to legally sign power of attorney over…and he’s had legal ramifications for back taxes etc on the estate but we’ll still never see our end of it.

  20. That stinks that someone, especially a relative would behave like that. I don’t have to tell you that it won’t help your situation to dwell on the past, even though it was very unfair to you. I hope things work out for you!
    Paul @ The Frugal Toad recently posted..How To Save Some Money with Your AutoMy Profile

    • I’m over it, it just sucks. It’s all in the past now but I still think about what could have been sometimes.

  21. So sorry, Catherine. We are experiencing something eerily similar, right now, in fact. Quite frankly it blows. Hardcore. Especially when this sort of shit comes from a family member. I completely can empathize.
    Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy recently posted..Plumping Our Family Coffers with an Itty-Bitty Gold UnicornMy Profile

  22. It’s pretty dirty that some people can be so callous towards their own family members. I guess this only confirms to me that most people are self centered and only looking out for themselves. Pretty sad world we live in.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Using your Mortgage as your Emergency FundMy Profile

  23. Something similar happened to my grandfather when his mother died. His older sister was the executor of the will, which conveniently disappeared when she died. My great grandmother was very wealthy, but my grandfather has never seen a penny. His older sister however, has been living a rather plush life full of international travel for many decades. That money would have made a huge difference in our family as well, as my grandparents were among the working poor for the majority of their life. I’m sorry to hear that you were stiffed out of your education fund 🙁 I hope somewhere down the line there’s a happy ending to this story for you.
    Cassie recently posted..So… I’m keeping my beaterMy Profile

  24. I blew $100,000 before I even turned 21.

    Check it out:

    It’s frustrating to look back, but it’s gone and I just have to move forward. I’m sorry to hear about the family issues, those are the most frustrating of all.

    • Catherine says:

      Oh I’ve read your story Jacob, crazy. You just need to understand that you’ve learned SO much from it and wouldn’t be the person you are today had that not happened to you.

  25. Sorry to hear that. I don’t understand how people can do that to families and live with themselves. It’s a crazy world. This is one reason why we don’t depend on anyone.
    Joe @ Midlife Finance recently posted..Are You Making Financial Headway?My Profile

  26. Wow. That must be really hard to let go of and not dwell on. So sorry that happened to you – I can’t say I have any similar experience, though an old flatmate owes me $1k that I still find myself thinking about occasionally.
    eemusings recently posted..Then and now: frugality through the yearsMy Profile

  27. Oh wow – what a despicable thing to do! You mean your uncle and his family live the good life and have low morals? He is really getting what’s coming to him.
    Lena @ WhatMommyDoes recently posted..What is a Pantry or Fridge Challenge?My Profile

  28. That is awful! I don’t think it is unreasonable for you to wonder how your life would have been different, especially since that money was due to you. It is amazing how people do this type of stuff, especially to their own families. I am sorry your family had to deal with this.
    Caitlin recently posted..Strategic Spending Thanks to Email SpamMy Profile

    • Thanks Caitlin, it stinks but it’s water under the bridge now…but with Facebook and alike, it’s hard to avoid watching his family live the life that they do.

  29. I feel awful for you. That is such a terrible way for your uncle to behave. People’s true colours really come out when there is money involved. It’s especially disgusting when people you are supposed to consider family stab you in the back or treat you like an ATM. I have a similar story, but it’s about stuff, not money.

    We lost my extremely mentally ill mother to a suicide a few years ago. She had a fair bit of money and immediately after her death her family (who we hadn’t seen in at least a decade) came sniffing around seeing if she’d left them anything. When they realized her will left everything to her kids (my brother and I), her sister demanded to be allowed to have some of my mother’s things (she was very into interior design and had a lot of expensive furniture). The rest of the family lost interest immediately and I haven’t heard from them since. Good riddance.

    My brother and I agreed to give away some of our mother’s things, and told our aunt just to put post-it notes on whatever she wanted. When we came back 2 days later my aunt had covered literally EVERYTHING in the house with post-its. We’re talking several pads worth, on everything from furniture to kitchen appliances to decorations and patio furniture. We said she could have some, but that we were allowing her friends and other family to look for keepsakes also.

    As a result, our aunt ranted about how she was building a new house and could “really use this all more than anyone else”. And she got really upset when we allowed my mother’s friends (people who had been in contact with her more recently than a decade ago, and who, you know, actually cared about her) to take keepsakes, saying that she’s family and deserves “first pick after my sister’s kids”. I guess “first pick” means “everything that’s not nailed down”.

    My aunt was the original executor too, but my mom decided she didn’t trust her a few years ago and changed it. I would imagine she’d have done the same thing as your uncle. I’m happy and relieved my mother didn’t leave that vulture anything in her will.

    I’m so sorry at what you had to deal with involving your greedy uncle. But on the bright side, we have both learned (expensive!) lessons from our “family”, and how their real characters behave in times of crisis. I know I’ll never trust that part of the family again.

    • Wow, that’s quite the story too, I’m sorry for your loss (suicide is tough, mental illness is even tougher I hate hearing stories where one leads to another-failed healthcare :(). It’s true that money shows a persons true character, as sad and pathetic as it may be. Glad you and your brother had each other!

  30. Thank you, Catherine. I know it doesn’t bring the money back, but take solace in knowing you’re a much better person than your uncle. You’re probably a lot more responsible with money, too. He put money over family (despicable!), and ruined his parents gift – which I’m sure they worked VERY hard for – in the process. There’s isn’t much lower than that to sink to. If he continues to behave that way regarding other things, he is going to wind up a very unhappy and unfulfilled person long term. Who wants that kind of person in their life?

    Mental illness is a silent killer. My mom was bipolar and schizophrenic, and turned to alcohol and tranquilizers to cope. My brother and I tried repeatedly to have her committed as we feared for her life (this was not her first attempt) but they would release her when she became lucid. It’s unconscionable this happens, but there was nothing we could do.

    • Whoops, I meant to reply to you, Catherine!

    • My heart breaks for you, even in today’s world of technology and scientific advancement how mental illness is treated/diagnosed hasn’t come much farther since practicing lobotomies in all honesty. I know how mental illness and addiction can ruin a person all too well.

      I’ve totally accepted that I’ll never see the money, and that I am a better person than he, but I still think about it from time-to-time. He has to live with his decisions and karma can be a real bitch.


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